Album Review: Daemonicus - Deadwork
Every genre, it seems, has its own sense of nostalgia. As the classic bands of every facet of metal continue to chug along, and in many cases find more success than they've had in decades, a new wave of bands is popping up, using the classics as more than merely an inspiration. While there are the bands making waves with their new takes on familiar tropes, there are even more dedicated to replicating what was great about the past, giving fans who weren't old enough at the time a look back into what the scene was like when innovation was everywhere.
Swedish death metal never went away, per se, but it was overtaken by the melodic death movement for more than a brief period. Bands like Entombed and Grave never disappeared, but they made records in the shadows, waiting for a time when they would once again be able to lead the charge. For whatever reason, a renaissance of seemingly every classic genre has come about in the last few years, which makes the throwback sounds of newer entries even less vital. It's a simple fact of math, if both new and classic bands are treading the same ground, there's less attention the upstarts can earn.
Daemonicus's second album, “Deadwork”, is borne from the tradition of Swedish death metal, containing all the buzzsaw guitars and subtle melodies of the classic era, time-warped into the modern age. The opening, dissonate, tremolo-picked notes of the quasi-title track are pure nostalgia, as is the Sunlight Studios guitar tone that rips the song open as the first real riff appears. If I didn't know better, I'd swear it was 1995, which I mean in the best way.
“Dead Work Of Art” pounds through five minutes of old-school death metal, alternating frantic sections with groove-laden riffs, letting the song ebb and flow as it moves along. It's another throwback to the old days, a welcome relief amidst the sea of bands that know only brutal and more brutal. A bit of songwriting and restraint are uncommon occurrences, and exactly what make “Deadwork” a better album than it could have turned out to be.
When “The Grandeur Of Termination” introduces those cold guitar harmonies, the music begins to take on another dimension. Juxtaposing the grinding riffs and throaty roars with a hint of melody shows facets to death metal that are often ignored. It's not impossible for death metal to explore territory outside brutality, but few take that approach anymore. The layered growls in the chorus expand the sound further, making the song sound epic in scope, and almost becoming a catchy number.
Those layered growls reappear in “The Hymn Of Udo Sathla”, which despite the frantic riffing and aggression dripping from the vocal, is another song that approaches catchiness. These types of songs remind me of the days when growlers still spat venom, but did so in a way that was not only intelligible, but encouraged growl-alongs with the audience. It's a simple bit of participation that helps fans latch onto songs. The bare-bones nature of this brand of death metal makes it the perfect representation of the art, and the kind of thing that, like it or not, can get stuck in your head if you aren't careful. There may not be any curveballs on the record, but that's the way we want it; straight-ahead and full-bore.
“Deadwork” is, at its heart, a nostalgia trip. There's absolutely nothing new to be found in these ten songs, but there doesn't need to be. All that was old is new again, and “Deadwork” is a solid recreation of the classic Swedish death metal sound. Comparing it to the classics would be unfair. And while it's not as strong as a latter day bolt of lightning like Entombed struck with “Morning Star”, nor is it a modern vintage masterpiece along the lines of Bloodbath's “Resurrection Through Carnage”, “Deadwork” is everything a fan of old-school death metal could want.